Social media have changed the way that social actors participate in sports events. “Prosumers” are able to directly offer different interpretations without journalists’ mediation when a social issue arises. However, social media do not fundamentally change the significance of cultural narratives in communication. This study focuses on discussions initiated by a commercial feed on a Chinese microblogging site during the 2012 London Olympic Games. Qualitative textual analysis was conducted. The study found that enduring cultural narratives create the predrafts of social-media communication; the instantaneity of microblogging referred to not simply its physical appearance but also the meaning of that appearance. In addition, social-media texts illustrate a society’s ongoing stories. Going beyond the limitations of previous control-vs.-freedom paradigms, this study explores a Chinese consumer society that is more dynamic and complex than previous studies would suggest.
Liu is a doctoral candidate, and Berkowitz, her advisor, in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.